Ecommerce has seen incredible growth in recent years. In 2022, U.S. ecommerce sales crossed the $1 trillion threshold for the first time. And although ecommerce growth has slowed this year due to COVID-19 and a looming recession causing havoc on the supply chain system, it’s still worth looking at the key B2B ecommerce trends for next year.
If 2020 and COVID have taught us anything, it is that:
- You can't predict everything when making plans to grow your B2B ecommerce business, even with the most brilliant minds working for you and the most expensive ecommerce solutions available;
- A pandemic can change the world in both positive and negative ways. However, if your B2B ecommerce business has always had an adaptable strategy that allows you to pivot, you can prosper in these challenging times.
So, in a rapidly changing world, here are the six most important B2B ecommerce trends to consider when planning your online sales strategy in 2023 and beyond.
1. B2B Online Marketplaces Will Grow Even More
The COVID-19 pandemic fast-forwarded digital transformation. An analysis published by McKinsey & Company states that "B2B decision-makers globally say that online and remote selling is as effective as in-person engagement" and that "70-80% of them prefer remote human interactions or digital self-service."
The question you and your team should be asking yourselves is the one your buyers are asking in amazement:
When will your B2B company go online?
Even more, B2B buyers, as well as B2B sellers used to doing business online are asking:
When will you join an online marketplace?
As the research conducted by WBR Insights, Mirakl, and Oracle found, "87% of business buyers across all age ranges are making business purchases on online marketplaces."
The usage of B2B online marketplaces is growing. Even though some businesses avoid them, B2B buyers and procurement specialists working for big retailers find it easier to shop in one place where they can easily search for the products and compare the prices from different wholesalers.
The fact that Amazon and Alibaba, as the biggest online marketplaces in the world, are expanding from B2C ecommerce into B2B ecommerce should be a clear sign that wholesalers must strengthen their online presence, transform their ecommerce sites for a better user experience, and also take advantage of all the benefits of online marketplaces available.
2. Digital B2B Buyers' Rising Expectations
More and more, B2B buyers want an online store that meets the following criteria: :
- Quality customer experience and support while shopping
- Product and service knowledge to make an informed purchasing decision
- Quick and user-friendly buying experience on desktop and mobile
- Different forms of possible payment methods available
- Easy-to-use checkout and shipping options
Shifting to a digital platform doesn’t just require an online store, your B2B business must also adopt these three important digital selling strategies.
Like old-school offline retailers would say: Pricing is king. Little has changed with millennials running the show (as online business owners and B2B customers).
However, when your B2B ecommerce becomes a part of an online marketplace, many wholesalers and distributors present with their competitive products and prices, being constantly aware of your business environment and having customer expectations in mind all the time is important. Ensuring your pricing is attractive and competitive with others in your niche is the first step in grabbing a B2B buyer's attention.
Dutch B2B ecommerce and B2C ecommerce software company Sana Commerce conducted a survey that revealed the importance of customer support in the sales process. The report states 94% of B2B buyers have customer experience issues when trying to make an online purchase. Answering customer inquiries and concerns ahead of time can help drive those conversion rates higher.
Finally, Demand Gen Report’s B2B buyers survey found that B2B buyers place a large emphasis on positive online reviews and peer recommendations when purchasing. Seeing others provide genuine positive feedback on the product or service matters greatly to the buyer.
3. Quicker and More Personalized Customer Experience
B2B customers expect fast shipping like B2C ecommerce companies provide. Even more so, when someone's ecommerce sales rely on how quickly they can deliver goods to their customers, they are sure to choose a B2B ecommerce platform that won't slow them down. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught B2B companies anything, it is that when the product is needed, it is always needed without delay or interruptions. It is surely the first step when building a good customer experience.
A survey conducted by Smarter HQ Company specialized in developing personalization platforms for businesses, reports that 72% of customers only engage with personalized messaging and 69% of B2B buyers are willing to pay more for an experience fit to their unique needs.
What is the primary objective of customer personalization?
The primary objective of personalization is to drive more efficiency throughout the B2B ecommerce cycle, making the customer journey easy and smooth. Also, as no two customers are the same in a B2C ecommerce business, the same applies to B2B business. Every customer must have a relevant message catering to their needs. Reassure them that you understand their pain points.
How to become a B2B selling force
When developing their B2B ecommerce platform, every company should keep a more personalized approach in mind so that customers can browse through the site and find what they need easily.
If you implement guided selling by helping your customer through the buying process so they can make a good purchase decision, you'll surely become a B2B selling force to be reckoned with. B2B businesses should also consider using self-service portals for customers who prioritize ease of use and want to manage and order through their accounts online.
4. Content Is the Real Challenge
As I stated before, when developing your buying processes to meet your buyer's needs, always consider enhancing a personalized experience for everyone buying goods from you.
Investing in a good ERP system is more than a trend in 2023, it is a must for every serious B2B business with growth plans. Making your operations more automated and accessible to your employees makes them more available to be there for the customers and devote themselves to the products and selling.
In 2023, conducting digital transformation with mobile-first in mind is a "technical issue" that is implied because B2B buyers and B2C customers use mobile devices when looking for products. The responsive design of your ecommerce site is a must, and a mobile app is always a good idea if you're ready to invest in designing one that has everything for the best buying experience.
The real challenge is to make dedicated content for B2B decision-makers
According to a survey conducted by Isoline, 53% of B2B buyers find video and video chat as the most useful forms of content, followed by case studies. But in the age where Augmented Reality (AR) is building up to become "the new normal", it is no surprise that 38% of B2B buyers seek AR options. Here are 11 ecommerce content marketing tactics you can utilize for ecommerce brand building.
5. Millennials Are the Largest B2B Buying Demographic
In 2022, millennials became the largest B2B purchasing group, surpassing Baby Boomers for the first time.
An IBM Institute for Business Value report calls the millennials the new decision-makers, it also states that "millennials, even more than Gen X or Baby Boomers, prize a hassle-free, omnichannel client experience personalized to their specific needs."
"They want data, speed, and trusted advisors who are eager to collaborate," says IBM's report.
6. Predictive Analytics, Data, Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
Undoubtedly, the four most important terms of 2023 for B2B ecommerce are analytics, data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence (AI).
Even though B2B companies are a bit behind B2C companies in analytics tools, this year will be a game-changer when investing in advanced data analysis. The reason is simple: B2B businesses have finally realized the benefit of big data when dealing with the challenges of building a consistent customer experience.
So, marketing analytics software, AI, and machine learning usage will continue to grow through 2023 and in the following years as B2B companies aim to know their B2B customers even better. Forbes wrote, "For B2B ecommerce businesses, AI can be a tool for greater personalization, improved decision-making ability, and competitive advantage."
Questions to Ask Yourself as a B2B Ecommerce Website Owner
Here are a few thought starters for all you current and future B2B ecommerce wizards out there
Is Your B2B Ecommerce Business Barely Working Online (If That's Even Possible In 2023)?
Well, wake up and wake up fast! B2B ecommerce might have a few challenges and need investment, constant learning, and development. Still, it is also the best opportunity to grow your business and reach greater numbers of potential customers.
Do You Quickly Adapt and Shift Your B2B Ecommerce Business?
If we learned anything after 2020, it's that anything can happen. You should be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Learn fast and shift when necessary so your business can endure and thrive. That is the trick of the best ecommerce out there: Follow your customer's heartbeat, constantly improve your platform, and evolve with the market.
Did You Find Your B2B Ecommerce Mojo Yet?
Selling online can feel daunting. But if you were successful in selling offline and could connect with customers, you have it in you to succeed.
You need to be able to adapt to changes in the online arena if you want to impress digital natives who are your B2B customers right now. In a few years, Gen Z will be the dominant B2B buying group, and their penchant for online shopping and mobile commerce means that learning how to sell online is crucial.
Good luck with your B2B ecommerce business in 2023. If you need more helpful tips on operating a B2B ecommerce business, check out the following articles:
- What Is B2B Ecommerce? Everything You Need To Know For Your Business
- Why New B2B Ecommerce Brands Need A Demand Generation Strategy
- 10 Best B2B Ecommerce Platforms
- 6 Proven B2B Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
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